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Enterprise hits and misses - marketers grapple with generative AI, security is an identity problem, and OpenAI has an up and down week

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed June 17, 2024
Marketers are bullish on generative AI, but is content "creation" the best use case? Security is an identity problem, with hackers exploiting trusted credentials. OpenAI notches a win via Apple (and Siri), but a new open letter keeps ethics on the front burner (for now). Your whiffs include a PR pretzel-twisting competition.

Business team applauding

Lead story - Is content creation the best use for generative AI in marketing?

My answer? You can probably guess: an emphatic no. Via the proliferation of jargon-laden tech marketing copy from our helpful generative AI bots, content becomes a commodity. Just who will be reading all of this "instant mediocrity"? 

Marketers don't seem to have a good answer to that - a topic I delved into during my video show with Thomas Wieberneit, Workshopping AI for content "creation" - parsing the BS

But what does Barb think? Her piece, linked above, gets to core issues. Such as: 

I look at the tools sales teams are getting that include generative AI. Tools like Salesloft, Outreach, and 6sense provide sales teams with deep insights into customers through tools that analyze account data and provide summaries and insights on meetings. Yes, it also helps create content, but for me, it's the ability to find those insights so much faster through prompts that's most important.

Bingo. Why do we obsess over machines replacing our own creators, when there are so many things AI can do better than humans with content, such as: instantly translating content across languages and platforms, summarizing white papers and bloated meetings, and video editing (something that I use for highlighting longer interviews etc)? Barb adds: 

Marketers also need these capabilities in their own tools, and I haven't seen them yet (tell me if I am wrong). Instead of relying on pre-built reports, why can't marketers ask questions and have AI do the hard work of analyzing and pulling everything together? And then enable the marketer to select which insights to act on and help create the framework of a campaign to make that happen. Sure, there's content creation in there, but it's only part of what happens, and it's not the first thing.

And more from Barb: 

Think about what Tribble is doing with generative AI: creating RFP responses through a chat interface within the tools sales teams use every day. Why must marketers move between multiple tools to find information, analyze campaigns, define segments, write new content, and build marketing campaigns?

Contentstack is right; that functionality needs to be pulled together in a single interface to create personalized experiences.

With a dash of imagination, we can apply AI to change how we do things - without losing the human element that is already so hard to find in most buzzword-infested enterprise content. My only quibble? I insist on the phrase "content generation" for these gen AI use cases, not "content creation." An email to prospects is content generation. So is generating FAQ content - which is a nice use case, if the AI is trained on your own (quality) product data. 

Why trivialize creation more than it actually is? Gen AI's content abilities are due to the sweat (non)-equity of all the artists who unwittingly provided the uncompensated training for these systems (not to mention there is still a human element involved in pulling out the right stuff with the right prompt). Yeah, I hear you saying, "Jon, that's a semantic battle already lost." Perhaps - but who said there was shame on the losing side of a core conviction? 

Diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week

Vendor analysis, diginomica style. Here's my three top choices from our vendor coverage:

  • Oracle's bullish AI-driven growth outlook makes Wall Street very happy - Stuart on Oracle's frenemy partnership with Google Cloud, and how Oracle's multi-cloud AI play got a thumbs up from investors: "Recent weeks have seen various vendors, not least Salesforce and Workday, take a pummelling from Wall Street on the back of conservative fiscal outlooks. No such issue for Oracle this week as the firm pitched double-digit growth expectations on the back of AI-powered cloud sales."
  • AI means we'll work smarter, but just as hard, says Box CEO Aaron Levie - Phil parses Levie's optimistic take on AI's workplace impact: "He's equally skeptical of the economic projections that suggest unemployment will rise as organizations cut staff to capture productivity gains from implementing AI. He believes the economic models are set up to measure existing activities but aren't so good at forecasting the impact of new ways of working. In the past, spreadsheets, word processors and developer tools have all automated away work, but organizations have just swallowed up the productivity gains to do more. He believes it will be the same with AI."
  • How ServiceMax is helping PTC join a digital thread across the end-to-end service lifecycle - Phil on how ServiceMax and PTC are fusing their offerings: "With ServiceMax in place, PTC now has a system of record for customer assets in the field that complements its existing PLM products." 

Spring events roll on (and on), and so do we: 

SAP Sapphire coverage - Madeline was on the ground in Barcelona last week, I enjoyed the refreshing solar blast of Orlando the week prior. Madeline has the AI update; I made the case for the underrated news story of the show:

PegaWorld 2024 coverage -  Derek hit Pega' s user event during his Las Vegas residency. I can't resist quoting Pega CEO Alan Trefler's welcome blast against the near-unbearable hype around AI agents, which will be useful in the long run but cannot cover up for the need for human review of (most) gen AI output in the shorter term: 

I think what most of the others are talking about with agents is just garbage. This fantasy of AGI, artificial general intelligence, where agents are going to suddenly mysteriously do things…we operate in regulated businesses, we operate with companies that want to explain how the work they do is automated. Being able to use AI to generate tangible, visible and very precise workflows, which can, by the way, be fully automated, and are as automated as anything these magic agents are doing...I just think we're on a whole different plane. 

Bingo - it's amazing how well agents work when you don't expect them to automate workflows that haven't been successfully automated yet!

via Derek's Pega CEO prioritizes practical AI use cases, says most enterprise AI agents are “garbage". Also see: Dystopian nightmare or silver bullet? Pega’s AI team urge buyers to avoid clichés and to follow the value. Meanwhile, Rebecca reported back from Zoholics, where a notable CRM for Everyone product announcement was made: Zoholics 24 - plenty of CRM for everyone, plus lots of AI.

Splunk .conf24 coverage - Chris picked up on Splunk's story, at the first user conference since the Cisco acquisition: 

Jon's grab bag - Chris also published an important piece on the perils of disinformation in Chatham House Cyber 2024 - will AI spur a dis-information revolution? Madeline penned a tech-for-good story, and we can never get enough of those these days: How data and AI is helping FareShare tackle food poverty and the 10 million tonnes of food wasted every year

Best of the enterprise web

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My top 


Overworked businessman


Clive Boulton has been dominating the whiffs, pinging me with gaffe after gaffe. Here are a few of his doozies: 

More Microsoft OS missteps: 

Note: "Recall" has now been officially recalled. Queue the pretzel-twisting - but how did such a botch job idea get so far down the (wrong) rails? Speaking of pretzel-twisting: 

See you next time... If you find an #ensw piece that qualifies for hits and misses - in a good or bad way - let me know in the comments as Clive (almost) always does. Most Enterprise hits and misses articles are selected from my curated @jonerpnewsfeed.

Image credit - Waiter Suggesting Bottle © Minerva Studiom, Overworked Businessman © Bloomua, Business team applauding © Andres Rodriguez - all from Adobe Stock.

Disclosure - Oracle, Workday, SAP, Zoho, PTC (ServiceMax) and Salesforce are diginomica premier partners as of this writing.

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